Individualist Sports Ethics

The issue of sports ethics to me personally arises in certain situations but is not as prevalent an issue as in other sports. I am a thrower on the track team here and the very nature of the sport limits the number of ethical dilemmas or scenarios available. Throwers take either three or six throws depending on if they make finals. Each throw is measured if it is a legal throw meaning that the thrower does not foul out of the circle being thrown from or throw outside of the sector lines. Once measured the athlete then waits his turn until his next throw. There is no one else inside the circle, no physical interaction with any other athlete, it is just the thrower and that is all. Therefore ethical problems do not often arise. Most ethical problems are what many would call “good sportsmanship” which is simply congratulating competitors on good throws, and generally being courteous. Most throwers tend to have the proper throwing etiquette such as be quiet while someone is throwing, or don’t stand at the back of the circle and stare at them before they throw. Although the faces shotputters and other throwers make are pretty hilarious.

Kurt Roberts

But in general etiquette is the main ethical issue. One issue that does arise for nearly all athletes but in particular throwers is the use of performance enhancing drugs. American throwing philosophy is to get as big, strong, and fast as possible. One way people in the past have accomplished this goal is through the use of performance enhancing drugs. Everything from steroids to human growth hormone have been used. The NCAA bans many more substances than the Olympic committee including amino acids and caffeine (in certain amounts). Most protein supplements and other weight-lifting supplements available on the market contain ingredients banned by the NCAA. Even certain Vitamin Water flavors contain banned ingredients. The current world record holder in shot put is often contested due to the fact that he was found to have used performance enhancing drugs. His throw of 75.85 ft is often considered illegitimate. Here is a video of his weight-lifting sessions.

This is the main ethical issue in throwing, and it is an interesting issue. Consider the argument that if everyone is allowed to use these drugs then the competition is still fair. This presents problems however when you get females being injected with testosterone causing adverse affects. This occurred to the shotputter from East Germany who as a result of the massive amounts of testosterone injected into her decided to just get a sex change and become a man. Also I believe that to allow performance enhancing drugs, at least in the Olympic sense, contradicts the very nature of the sport. The main purpose of throwers, and track and field in general is to push the human body to its natural limits. It is not to see how monstrous we can become through the use of chemicals. Some banned NCAA ingredients are a little strange however. Too much caffeine? To be fair it would take six or so cups of strong coffee before it reaches illegal levels, but I cannot see that happening often or to good affect. Besides, some athletes already use smelling salts to the same affect which is untraceable in drug tests. This is weird to be sure, but it does happen. Should it happen? I believe as long as the athlete is not relying on it and it does not affect performance long term then it is not a real issue. Some drugs are banned for good reasons others are just a little over-zealous on the banning. Either way it is a problem that occurs in every Olympics. Here are some throwing videos for those of you who have no idea what we do. Gneeral information, the shotput and hammer weigh 16lbs for men and 4kg (8.8lbs) for women. The discus is 2kg for men and 1kg for women.   

One thought on “Individualist Sports Ethics

  1. I agree with what you said in your last paragraph, “The main purpose of throwers, and track and field in general is to push the human body to its natural limits.” This I feel is true for any sport. If you use chemicals or enhancers, you are no longer competing on the same playing field as everyone else. When these chemicals are involved, it is a competition to see how much illegal enhancers you can use without getting caught, not a measure of how strong or skilled you are.


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